The Kenya Forum | Trending: a round-up of this week's biggest news stories - The Kenya Forum

August 4, 2023


The power struggle, inflamed by a rising cost of living, seems finally to have entered its discussion stage.

More by Cameron Grant

Trending: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

Trending: a round-up of this week’s biggest news stories

This week’s round-up of the biggest news stories dominating national newspapers features the latest development in the Kenya Kwanza/Azimio power struggle, news on another seemingly unending tussle – between Al-Shabaab and Kenya’s defence forces – and the opening of an Open University.

Ruto vs. Raila: discussions open and negotiators are chosen

The power struggle, inflamed by a rising cost of living, seems finally to have entered its discussion stage. On Wednesday, the negotiators for both sides were announced to the public.

This writer uses the word ‘finally’ because only through open, frank and genuinely conciliatory discussion will this conflict come to its end. However, the use of that word does come with some trepidation.

A ‘finally’ assumes some sense that this beginning of discussions will act as the initialising stages of a roadmap we desire. And, of course, in its opening there is much to be desired. There is great hope from many sectors of Kenyan society – those in Nairobi’s CBD perhaps most prominent amongst them – that the violence and disruption will stop. However, the opening of dialogue does also come with some resignation. We have been here before.

Kenyans will not need reminders of the dialogues that ended in power sharing but little actual change to the hardships facing the electorate. This is the reason why the phrases ‘Handshake’ and ‘nusu mkate’ are presently trending.

This time around the above-mentioned phrases are symbols hanging over and influencing the men and women sitting down to discussions. Everyday Kenyans and negotiators alike will know that power sharing has left a bitter taste in many mouths.

This is part of why Ruto has taken these talking points off the table.

Al-Shabaab and the defence forces of Kenya: why is it in the news?

Al-Shabaab seldom seems far from the headlines of Kenya’s national newspapers. The conflict stretches back lengthily in our memories and seems to extend as stretchily into our forecasts of the future.

There are few, if any, good news pieces that ever relate to a conflict with an organisation intent on sowing terror in a society. This news item is, unfortunately, no different.

#Al-Shabaab is presently trending on the app formerly known as Twitter because of the fact that a video, claimed to be of Al-Shabaab publication, of an IED detonating under a Kenya Police Force vehicle is being widely shared on the social media platform.

The video is serving its intended purpose. It shows a Kenya Police vehicle travelling along a road before the explosive detonates beneath it. It is a chilling video that some viewers may find distressing and indeed that distress and the fear it precipitates is what those sharing it want as the outcome.

Videos such as this one stand as testament to the fact that insecurity is still glaringly unaddressed in certain parts of this country. Perhaps this explains the fact of the publicising that the Kenyan military recently neutralised 60 Al-Shabaab militants? One good news piece to contrast the bad or just coincidental timing? Who knows?

What we do know is that this conflict is not showing signs of slowing or moving toward an end point.

Ruto grants a charter to the Open University of Kenya

As part of a series of promises the present president made while campaigning for the top job, there was the promise of ensuring that Kenyans had access to a cheaper alternative to higher education.

Rumours and perambulations surrounding the Open University have been around for some time but finally a charter has been granted to the institution. The Open University, located in the Konza ‘City’ that is being created as a part of Kenya’s vision 2030 vision, will be, according to Ruto, the university for ‘Mama mboga’.

It is designed to give professional qualifications to the everyperson that makes Kenya: the vegetable sellers, the boda boda drivers, the small-time entrepreneurs. This development is undoubtedly a good thing even if, as is the case not just in Kenya, application of this tool will form the real basis for measuring its sharpness.

The Finance Bill

It’s here. After many months of more rumours and much eye-rolling, changes to the structure of taxation have arrived.

We won’t delve too deeply into this development as we’ve already covered it in this article: ‘Understanding Kenya’s Controversial Finance Bill 2023’

We will leave you with these questions, however. Do Kenyans deserve a changed taxation structure – being read by some as an attempt to squeeze more out of already struggling people – right now? Does the timing of the Open University charter’s charter have anything to do with this new finance bill’s release?

We don’t have the answers but you might want to consider the questions.


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